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Start of a fresh round of political fights

  • PH's internal struggle is poised to hurt its credibility, but fortunately the opposition is suffering from even bigger problems, especially Umno. Photo courtesy: Bernama

Sin Chew Daily

The start of the first Dewan rakyat sitting of the 14th parliament also marks the start of the continued aggressive fights between the rival political camps in the country.

This is because the parliament is an eye-catching platform for politicians to show off themselves.

The first issue raised by the opposition was that the appointment of former Appeal Court judge Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof as Dewan Rakyat Speaker did not follow the point of order and was a breach of house rules.

Consequently, BN and PAS representatives staged a walkout after their objection was ignored.

The opposition's objection was not completely unfounded, as Pakatan Harapan reportedly finalized the candidate only on July 9.

PH had not been able to come up with a suitable candidate early because of the internal conflicts within the coalition.

DAP had recommended Lim Kit Siang as the new Dewan Rakyat Speaker but PH preferred PKR's MP for Sungai Petani Johari Abdul, who is also Gurun state assemblyman. If Johari were to become Dewan rakyat Speaker, he would have to quit the state assembly seat and this might affect the stability of the Kedah state administration. In the end, former Amanah disciplinary chief Mohamad Ariff got to become the new Speaker.

Ariff is not a Member of Parliament, and his appointment as Dewan Rakyat Speaker has reneged on Pakatan Harapan's election manifesto.

Despite Mahathir trying to tame down the issue, it cannot be denied that this has already impacted the credibility of PH, and the opposition will not give up any opportunity to attack the ruling coalition.

We can see that indeed internal conflicts have begun to surface within the coalition.

Winning the most number of seats in the Parliament, PKR naturally feels that it is a notch above its PH allies, and PPBM will seize every opportunity to expand its influences, including absorbing former Umno members and making aggressive inroads into Sarawak.

PPBM is also giving Amanah a lift, not only to counteract the influences of PAS but also to serve as a checking force within PH.

The existing factional conflicts within PKR will get intensified following PH's success in winning the election. De facto leader Anwar Ibrahim's decision to run for party presidency should somewhat cap the factional problems, but past experiences show that Anwar is not an expert in handling administrative and personnel issues.

Will Wan Azizah take part in the party elections? And will Azmin Ali's position be challenged?

The fact that all party members have the right to vote will add to the unpredictability of PKR elections.

Anwar's election as PKR president should go well with his position as the PM-in-waiting as well as the highly intricate decision-making environment within PH.

PH's power distribution involves a whole lot of negotiation skills, and Anwar makes a much better coordinator than his wife in this respect.

PH's internal struggle is poised to hurt its credibility, but fortunately the opposition is suffering from even bigger problems, especially Umno.

After Ahmad Zahid's election as the party president, we can see a whole mess in he reshuffling his leadership structure, without a clear direction. For example, the incumbent Johor chairman Khaled Nordin now helms Perlis, while another two VPs, Bera MP Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Padang Terap MP Mahdzir Khalid become chairmen of Selangor and Terengganu respectively. How are these people going to manage problems outside their home states? As Khaled was a supporter of Tengku Razaleigh during the party elections, his transfer from the southernmost state to the northernmost state is widely seen as an act of political retaliation.

As for the appointment of supreme council members, former Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia is appointed after a similar offer to former AG Mohamed Apandi Ali was declined. Both men were highly controversial figures in their handling of the the 1MDB issue and Ahmad Zahid's decision to appoint them shows he does not believe this scandal would bring down Umno one day.

Najib's influences within the party leadership are set to trigger an internal split. For instance, Kedah Umno Youth is against the appointment of Apandi as supreme council member. Meanwhile, when Umno reps staged a walkout in the Parliament, Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin and Kimanis MP Anifah Aman decided to remain seated inside the hall.

Umno leadership's failure to take the drain of party members seriously is bound to erode the party's strength further.

The Sungai Kandis by-election in Selangor will expose the cruel reality that Umno has fallen out of the favor of majority of voters. It doesn't matter whether it will be a heads-on clash or a three-cornered fight, PKR is expected to win big anyway.

Umno continues to play with racial issues even after the May 9 general elections, especially on the UEC issue. This will push Barisan Nasional a step closer to the edge of the cliff.

On the contrary, PM Mahathir is a man of strategy. He visited Sarawak before the first parliamentary sitting to garner the support of GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) to make sure Umno and PAS will not mess things up in the state.

Confrontation is inevitable in politics. It is hoped that the vicious political fights in the run-up to GE14 will not be repeated at the expense of the government's reform agenda.

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